Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eye of the beholder

I'm pretty certain that I am not alone, as a person and as a photographer, in my opinion that everything has its own natural beauty. Take spiders for example; while reviled by many, I find their unique forms and features to be fascinating and beautiful.

I found this particular specimen making its web at the side of my house, while I was walking one of my dogs. As the web was only a few feet off the ground, I had to stop Jax from having a snack while I checked out the spider.

Next it was a case of grab my camera, macro lens, flash and Flashbender modifier. This time I switched to TTL balanced flash and Aperture Priority on the camera so I could concentrate more on framing and focusing. Of course, breaking out a light stand and getting the flash off camera would have also been an option but I went to for on camera flash bouncing light off the Flashbender to create indirect illumination.


I did a quick search on Google but so far I have not identified the particular species of spider. Still, I find it to be pretty striking and after taking about 30 images, I left it alone to go back to creating it's web.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In a flash...

Excuse the pun but it has been a pretty illuminating week for me where flash photography is concerned; and I guess I should step backwards a little and explain what I mean.

It all started when I received an email about the big 5 Day Deal of photography gear (videos, textures, plugins, software, training, etc) - in all $2000+ for a one time price of $89. If you participated, then you know just how awesome a deal it was, but if you missed it, my commiserations as it's now gone away.

Anyway, I started looking through the videos and was going to start looking at the ones from Lindsay Adler when I saw a series from Zack Arias, entitled One Light. All I can say is wow! Fantastic video series on flash photography and not only did he explain it all in a manner that even I could understand, he also demonstrated it all in a clear and easy to follow manner. It certainly highlighted everything I've done "wrong" in my previous efforts at flash photography. Two of the biggest things I now know after watching the videos is:

  1. Use manual mode for both the camera and flash
  2. I don't need to spend $hundred's on strobes and accessories - I have pretty much everything I need now (other than a few minor items)
My next big opportunity to flex my new found techniques will be at halloween as I will be running a "photo booth" for a costume party. I'll be using a pretty minimal setup of one SB-900, one SU-800, an Ezybox softbox on a 15ft stand and a white backdrop. Don't need any more than that as I can get good directional light from the Ezybox with minimal overspill as I won't want to light up the background and surrounding area too much - so no umbrella for this.

And now the wall of text is over, I bet you're wanting to see some photos. Well, I didn't have a "model" handy, so had to resort to using myself as the subject matter. Of course, I've never been that great at taking selfies but I certainly like the much improved lighting I got from this very basic setup of the Ezybox sitting a couple of feet above the camera position, in line with the lens.

Ian - Portrait2
Ian - Portrait

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Here is another delve into my photo archives and a previously unreleased photograph. This one was taken in October 2008 at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, near Pawhuska, Oklahoma - it was my first visit to the preserve and my first encounter with a bison.

The photo was taken in the late afternoon sun, close to 4:30pm and is of a single bison as it forages in the prairie grasses. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend paying the preserve a visit and stepping back in time to when most of Oklahoma was open prairie lands and the bison roamed free.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Small things

Like a lot of things, photography is often made (or broken) by the small things - not least of which is the need to watch the background for unwanted things or "photo bombs" by people/animals/objects. Also, by focussing on the little things we can find some really interesting subjects; colour, texture, shape, the play of light and shadow, etc.

I spotted this little flower in my back yard, in our small raised bed and I felt inspired to break out my camera and try to capture it. The late afternoon sun was placing the raised bed into shadow so I also broke out my SB-900 and Rogue Flashbender to provide some more flattering, indirect lighting. I then took several shots with the flash set to TTL/BL and was not very happy with the results as the flower was getting washed out. To compensate for this I switched over to manual on both my D2X and SB-900, finding a happy medium with the flash set to 1/4 power and the camera set to 1/100 sec and f/14 on my 60mm macro lens.

small pink flower

I like how the strands of spider web add a little extra interest to the shot - wondering where the spider may be; when did they leave; when will they return.

And I still like the square format to give a more balanced image (to me), some may not be too enamored with it but I like it on this particular shot.

Until the next entry, keep exploring and experiencing...